For the New York Stock Exchange, equality may need to start in an unexpected place — the bathroom.
No doubt that the goals of the Moving the Needle campaign are noble. Their aim is to help diversify US corporations by creating opportunities for a diverse set of candidates to network with established businesses.
As stated on their website, the goal is not to implement quotas to or put women or people of color in token positions, but rather to create value through diversity that will “improve all facets of a board’s and company’s performance and ultimately enhance the shareholders’ investment value.”
After all, in 2010 people of color were 11.9% of Executive/Senior Level Officials and Managers and 20.1% of all First/Mid-Level Officials and Managers. And only 16% of Fortune 500 board members were women.
The New York Stock Exchange is one organization that is embracing the Move the Needle program in order to help it diversify. But women familiar with the NYSE have a problem that is representative of the institutionalized sexism that often undermines efforts like Move the Needle.
The problem is the bathrooms.
Yes, the bathrooms. During a meeting designed to highlight the efforts to expand the number of female board members, some of the high-powered and successful women in attendance noticed that the women’s bathrooms were so far away from the floor of the exchange that the path had to be marked with multiple signs so women could find their way—all the way from the conveniently-located mens room through three winding corridors to the “Female Clerks Rest Room”.
Given the fast-paced nature of the stock exchange, it seems that this workplace in particular would benefit from having restrooms that are available for quick and efficient access.
Perhaps one of the first steps the NYSE needs to make to Move the Needle would be to move the ladies’ restroom.
Follow one woman as she photographs the journey from the trading floor to the women’s restroom: